Time to support strong industry voices

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It seems strange to report good news these days, but it’s there to be found. Even amid the stories of lockdowns and case counts.

Governments have rolled out a series of trucking-friendly changes in recent weeks, taking steps that reduce red tape, address workplace barriers, and even put more money into trucker pockets.

Alberta announced at the end of July that it’s eliminating 10,000 commercial carrier permits to better reflect equipment like wide-base single tires, tridems, and stinger-steer auto carriers. In most cases, such permits are approved every time someone applies for one because the underlying regulations include outdated weights and dimensions. But until now there’s been no hope of escaping the paper shuffle.

(Illustration: istock)

Around the same time, Ontario announced a six-month pilot project to see if it makes sense to allow provincial examiners to conduct road tests at driver training schools, creating more opportunities to clear backlogs that have plagued the system. Only weeks later it enacted other rules designed to establish a safer distance between animal rights activists and livestock-hauling trucks – a situation that has already led to the death of one protester.

Quebec is preparing legislation that will allow truck drivers as young as 18 behind the wheel with the appropriate training and support. And federally, the Canada Revenue Agency has even upped the meal allowances that truck drivers can claim, reflecting the ever-increasing costs of life on the road.

As different as these initiatives appear, they’re all tied together by a common thread. Each issue had been highlighted by trucking-focused associations, and were the focus of sustained campaigns for change.

It’s a particularly relevant observation this fall.

This has been a financially challenging year for most trucking operations, and everyone is taking a hard look at each related expense to ensure financial statements remain in the black. Questions are sure to be asked when membership dues come up for renewal, too.

But now, more than ever, such associations deserve your support.

The trucking industry has clearly demonstrated its role as an essential service during the fight against Covid-19. Government officials at every level have taken notice, and they’re going to be more open to listening about proposals that could spur business opportunities as the economy gradually emerges from its fiscal quarantine.

Will regulators make every change you want? Hardly. There are always priorities to balance. But the only hope for change of any sort comes when voices are expressed and cases are made. Otherwise it’s business as usual.

Membership in a trade association presents the opportunity to amplify your voice as surely as a vote during an election. Otherwise complaints are left hanging in the air over a truck stop counter, maybe in the messages shared among social media followers.

Like it or not, single voices tend to be as effective as white noise. Collective and clearly articulated voices present the greatest opportunities to sway decisionmakers, and represent the biggest opportunity for change.

As a member, you also have the chance to steer the stances that an organization takes, or even focus attention on a specific cause that is close to your heart and business.

The benefits of membership hardly end there, or course. Associations represent an important conduit of information pertaining to the broader industry and its various business segments. They offer the all-important opportunities for networking and sharing insights that lead to sound business decisions.

There are those who will scoff at the idea, who would rather leave the heavy lifting to others. If they find themselves at odds with one organization’s stances, they quit and walk away.

But for those who truly want to enact change, membership will make a difference. It already has.


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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • Trucking companies have too much paperwork something has to be done to reduce the need for full time office staff for smaller trucking companies under 10 trucks. All essential workers including truck drivers need be treated and paid fairly. Many lower paid per hour higher risk jobs will become harder to fill with good people with higher housing costs in Ontario.

  • The trucking industry needs to focus on making truck drivers life better or it will continue to have higher turn over. The current status of truck drivers and when they get sick or hurt end op in homeless shelters is something the whole Trucking industry to improve upon to get new truck drivers . The companies need to work with governments like Ont to fix the insurance of small trucking companies and owner ops ability to train and bring in younger new people into trucking.